38-Year-Old First Baseman – Free Agent
2018 Fantasy Baseball Outlook
There was no outlook written for Ryan Howard in 2018. Check out the latest news below for more on his current fantasy value.
Ryan Howard Contract Information:
Signed a minor-league contract with the Rockies in August of 2017.
Howard has reported to Triple-A Albuquerque and will be available for Saturday's game.
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Ryan Howard: MLB Games Played By Position
Ryan Howard Split Stats (View Full Split Stats)
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Ryan Howard Defensive Stats
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Ryan Howard: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
There was no outlook written for Ryan Howard.
Howard hit 25 home runs for the seventh time in his career last season, but that came with a .196 batting average and .257 on-base percentage in 362 plate appearances. He entered last season as the starter at first base, but started losing his grip on the job by late-May. He did little with his playing time in June, but started to show signs of life in July. That earned him some additional playing time in August where he hit .314 with six homers in 51 at-bats. He continued to play semi-regularly in September as the Phillies honored Howard for his contributions to the club while acknowledging he would not be back with the team in 2016. Howard's second half of the season showed he still has some pop left in his bat. He would be best used as a DH and in a platoon role starting against righties. The batting average will be a drain, but if he can find that type of role, he could be useful in AL-only leagues.
The Phillies tried to trade Howard last season but found no takers for the aging slugger and his massive contract. He spent the majority of the season as the team's everyday starter at first base before the team finally decided to start sitting him against lefties in August. He missed the last two weeks of the season with a swollen knee. On the surface, Howard's numbers last season look poor, but a closer look at his splits show a player who can still be very productive against right-handed pitching. He hit 20 home runs with an .802 OPS in 367 at-bats against righties last season while hitting just .130 with a .418 OPS against lefties in 100 at-bats. The Phillies will likely continue the platoon approach with Howard this season assuming they fail to find a trade partner again. He could be a sneaky pick late in drafts, especially in leagues with daily moves where you can rotate him with another part-time player.
It has been four seasons now since the Howard was a big contributor to fantasy teams. Howard managed to stay on the field last season after leg injuries forced him to miss significant portions of the prior two seasons, but his output has not returned to his once elite level. His batting average sunk to .223 last year as his inflated BABIP in 2013 corrected itself. He also saw a decline in his production against righties, which is where Howard historically has made up for his atrocious numbers against lefties. Surprisingly, Howard's slugging percentage was better against lefties (.447) than it was against righties (.353) last season. Howard has now posted back-to-back HR/FB rates in the mid-teens which could be his new level at this point in his career. That makes the likelihood of a return to 30-plus home runs highly unlikely. The Phillies have also grown frustrated with Howard and have said they would like to trade him. The challenge will be finding a team willing to take on any of his massive salary. If he stays in Philly, the team will likely look to platoon him more and hope that his splits against righties last season were an anomaly.
The 2013 season was another disappointment for Howard owners. He played in just 80 games before opting to have surgery in early July to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. There were a few positive signs in Howard's ratios last year. His contact rate rebounded closer to his career average after it hit a low point of 62 percent in 2012. He also cut his strikeout rate from 33.9% in 2012 to 30.0% last year, it is still a terrible rate, but at least the number is moving in the right direction. Howard also increased his flyball rate to 38 percent, an increase of seven percent from 2012, and back in line with his career average. He hit only 11 home runs last season, but he did that with a 14.9% HR/FB rate, the lowest mark of his career by far. That number is likely to rebound back into the 20-30% range which should mean a return back toward 30 home runs in 2014, provided that he stays on the field. Howard is going to struggle when he faces lefties, so he should be benched in daily formats in those matchups. He is reportedly in the best shape he has been in since his Achilles surgery, and is likely to be discounted in drafts this year due to his recent struggles.
Howard missed the first three months of last season after suffering a setback during spring training in his recovery from surgery on his Achilles. When Howard returned, it was clear when watching him on the basepaths that his leg was still far from 100 percent. At the plate, Howard struck out a career-worst 34 percent of the time. Things got even more dire for him when he had to face a lefty. Manager Charlie Manuel said that he felt Howard was unable to push off his back leg at the plate, which contributed to his poor numbers. That may be the case, but Howard has always shown a propensity to strike out. Couple that with the increase in defensive shifts by major league teams, and Howard seems likely to be a bit of a batting average drain over the remainder of his career. He also broke his toe at the end of last season, but is expected to be ready for spring training. His leg should be stronger now that he is further removed from his Achilles surgery, which should help him rebound a bit at the plate. He still looks like a lock for 30 home runs and plenty of RBI with a decent offense around him.
For the second year in a row, Howard made the last out in the playoffs for the Phillies. That wasn't the only negative in Howard's last game of the season as he also ruptured his Achilles' tendon and had surgery shortly thereafter. Howard finished the 2011 season with similar statistics to his 2010 campaign. His HR/FB rate was at 22 percent last year, up just a tick from his 21 percent mark in 2010, but well below the low-to-mid 30 percent clip he posted during his monster offensive years. If Howard's HR/FB rate has permanently regressed, it is likely we've seen the last of his 40-home run seasons. Howard will likely begin the 2012 season on the disabled list recovering from his injury, which will take a toll on his overall numbers. The Phillies have suggested Howard could be back in May, but that is far from a certainty.
Howard failed to top 40 home runs for the first time since 2005, the year he broke into the majors. He missed some time with an ankle injury, but he likely would not have topped 40 home runs even if he managed to stay healthy the whole year as his 21 percent HR/FB rate was the lowest of his career since he became a full-time player. Manager Charlie Manuel said this winter that Howard never fully recovered from the ankle injury and that may have affected his ability to drive the ball the last few months of the season. Howard will be healthy heading into spring training and remains one of the premier sluggers in baseball. He's still in the prime of his career and for that reason we believe he is likely to bounce back and post a home run rate that is more in line with his career norm.
Howard finished third in the NL MVP voting after putting together another monster year for the Phillies. He topped 40 home runs for the third straight year and 140 RBI for the second consecutive season. He even swiped a career-high eight bases in 2009. Howard's weakness, outside of his shaky but improving defense at first base, is his tendency to strike out. He's topped 185 strikeouts three years in a row. Those strikeouts can take a toll on his batting average especially if they are coupled with a low BABIP like in 2008 when Howard hit .251 on balls in play. Howard makes a great investment as a first-round pick despite the batting average risk because there are few players who have his light-tower power and consistent offensive production.
Though it was a bumpy ride to reach his final total, Howard finished the 2008 season with big-time numbers, batting .251 with a league-best 48 home runs and 146 RBI. He also matched his 2007 output with 199 strikeouts. Howard experienced well-documented struggles at the beginning of the year, batting just .234 before the All-Star break, but went .276 after and remained the most productive home run and RBI producer throughout. His value takes a significant hit in leagues that penalize strikeouts, but Howard is an elite power-hitting option in most formats.
Howard's batting average plummeted in 2007, 45 points from last season to .268 and his OBP dipped 33 points to .392, but his power numbers remained superb, ranking him among the league leaders despite the fact that he missed half of May with an injury. Howard will always have amazing power numbers, but until he cuts back on the wild swinging he's going to have his share of streaks and slumps. His .221, three-homer April led to a lot of nail biting and ulcer medication, luckily, he picked up the pace in May. This season will bring a lot of monster shots and hopefully more patience.
Howard emerged as a superstar in 2006 by smashing 58 homers on his way to becoming the NL MVP in his first season as a major league regular. He homered against 19 of the 20 teams he faced—only the Pirates kept him in the yard. He wasn't a Citizens Bank Park wonder, either, as he hit for a better average (.318 to .309) and for the same power (29 HR) on the road. He kept the Phillies in the race after the break by hitting an incredible .355 with 30 HR, 78 RBI and 77 BB in 75 games. Howard's defense (14 errors) and strikeout totals are only minor concerns.
Howard seized the moment halfway through 2005 when Jim Thome had elbow surgery and won the NL Rookie of the Year award. He hit so well in the second half that the Phillies dealt Thome to the White Sox and he now has the first base job to himself. As a rookie power hitter, Howard struggled in predictable areas: against lefthanders, on the road and with a high strikeout rate. His defense also needs work. Nevertheless, at this point David Ortiz comparisons are looking less far-fetched.
Howard did a David Ortiz impression in 2004, smashing home runs from Double-A all the way to the majors. He hit 48 in all, tying Adrian Beltre for most in the pros. Blocked from first base and left field in Philadelphia for the next several years, Howard continued to rake in the AFL while learning the outfield. Howard does have holes in his swing (180 strikeouts), but is clearly deserving of a full shot. The Phillies need to trade or make room for him, as it doesn't look like there is much point in him tearing up Triple-A in 2005.
Howard was one of the best offensive players in the Phillies' minor-league organization, as he finished second among Phils farmhands in average (.304), home runs (23) and RBI (82) while in the Florida State League. He did strike out 151 times. One other negative - Howard has a big roadblock in front of him in Jim Thome at first base.